Yup – it’s April 1st and I figure that today is as good a day as any to make it known, that I’ve decided to buy Vlads company Own Web Now. I figure that if you can’t beat him, join him… or buy him out and make him do your bidding for you That’s the way isn’t it… "I liked the product so much, I bought the company". The big question is how much do I offer him for the company. I mean, the Aussie dollar is going up and up and I suspect will soon be worth as much (or as little) as the American dollar, so that should make the buy out cheaper shouldn’t it? Maybe if I dig through my photo file I can find a few incriminating shots of Vlad that Katie has not seen as yet… nah – that won’t work – she’ll accept most anything he does as being "just Vlad".
Ok – so I figure by now that this fictitious blog post should have attracted enough attention to get the big fella pinging me on IM anytime about….. NOW!…
Happy April Fools Day to all – don’t get caught out by the usual pranks. I’ll be on the lookout for the normal Google ones… here’s a few from the past.
Google Mail Paper
Google Pigeon Rank
Published: 31/03/2008 11:01 PM
Have you recently gone AWOL without any form of communication for a few days? I have to say I’ve not done this in many many years. I’ve always had a mobile phone within reach, or an Internet connection handy – even if it is just GPRS. This weekend, I’m going AWOL. No laptop, not mobile phone, about the most technological thing I’ll have is my wristwatch (and that’s analogue too!). I’m taking a good old fashioned pen and paper for anything that I need to write down and think I can’t remember.
In this day and age, we take many things for granted, technology is one of those things, and I think it behoves us as responsible individuals to sometimes take a few steps back and look carefully around us to see where we are, what we are doing, where we are going and how we are going to get there. The same holds true for all aspects of our lives, our relationships, friendships, business plans, everything. We need to stop and think. Ask questions. Smell the roses. If you don’t you might find out too late that you’ve missed something really fantastic.
In a related note, I’ll be away while EarthHour happens – this is a fantastic demonstration on how reliant we are on technology and how our use of that technology affects the entire globe. So tomorrow night at 8pm, wherever I am, whatever I am doing, you can rest assured that I’ll be in the dark
Published: 28/03/2008 8:46 AM
Ok – so I’m posting this a day late Friday was my last day at Trend. It was a week that I really enjoyed. I met lots of new people and got the unique chance to express directly to these people about all the things that matter to us in the SMB IT Professional / Reseller Community. I’ll post next week on some wrap up items.
On my last day, I began with spending 2 hours presenting / discussing with the teams that I’ve met about a summary of my experiences, along with suggestions as to how I felt they could better improve things overall. Naturally much of the specifics need to remain under NDA for the moment, but I will post more on this once we’ve clarified a few of the ideas that were discussed. During the discussions one of the team members was asking a number of high level questions. I’d not seen this team member before during the week and wondered who he was. His questions were really focused on understanding not only the technical needs of our market, but the business aspects as well. If you’ve been presenting for as long as I have, you soon realise that a person like this is not "your normal developer". After the session finished, he came up and introduced himself to me – he was Oscar Chang – Chief Development Officer and Executive Vice President for the entire Trend Micro organisation. Oscar was very happy to have been able to understand just how they could do better to help improve what they do for and with us. I must admit to being surprised to having such a high level person attend my briefing and on reflection this makes me see just how much Trend are really serious about meeting our needs in the SMB space. I look forward to future discussions with Oscar on how they can do things for us.
It’s a little sad at the same time that I’ll be leaving this team. I’ve learned a little Chinese over the last week, although my conversational ability extends to hello, thank you, this is delicious food, and this is not so delicious food, plus a few slang words that the guys taught me in relation to girls They told me though that these were "men only" words that we should keep to ourselves – not sure if they are pulling my leg or not. All in all it was a fantastic opportunity and I hope that I represented the SMB community well to Trend.
I want to thank the man responsible for this – Mr Dal Gemmell – he’s on of the Global SMB Product Managers responsible for the SMB space.
Published: 23/03/2008 1:22 AM
Well – today I spend time with the QA department. Kind funny really because last night the team released the external beta of WFBS v5.0 (aka CSM 5.0). Max and Eric from the QA team walked me through the development cycle from a QA perspective. I got to understand the stages of development from Pre-Alpha through to GM release (final shipping product).
One of the most interesting things that I found out was that Trend have made a change to the way they do the development and sustaining engineering side of things. Previously (and I think like most companies), Trend had two teams – one for the development of new product, and the other for the development of bug fixes to existing products. Trend have now done away with the Sustaining Engineering team – merging them with the Development team. This puts more responsibility on the engineers to not only build the product correctly from the start, but also to consider that once it has gone to a GM release that they still need to worry about maintaining any fixes and resolutions to the product. They guys say that this new method does increase their desire to make it right the first time rather than make it some one else’s problem.
Later in the day I was asked to do real world QA testing. In this mode, I actually took the released build of WFBS 5.0 and installed it on the server that runs the SBSfaq.com web sites and a few other sites I support (it’s SBS 2003 R2 Premium). During the installation I found a minor fault which was mostly due to something that I had done (I had deleted some temp files that I should not have), but even so the QA guys realised that maybe they should take this scenario into account and better handle the situation which is great. This type of real world scenario is something that they need to see so that they can build a more robust product.
In the evening (and the reason for the delayed post today), I was invited to Trends 20th Anniversary celebration party. This was held in a massive gym hall which I’m told is the only place in Taipei they could fit the 1500 Trend staff and family. Trend founders Eva and Jenny Cheng were present to be part of the ceremony and give away gifts to lucky staff members. At one point 15 Apple MacBook Air were given away to the cheers of the Trend staff. A slip up by Eva meant instead of giving away 2 prizes of $2000, she said 10 prizes – she of course kept to her word to rapturous applause.
What stood out for me at this event was that the entertainment for the night was provided by Trend staff. We had Jecy from the HIE team doing a number of the introductions during the night, and then later a massive performance other groups including a percussion performance in the photo. Not only did these people play instruments but they got up and did a pretty cool dance too. Charlene and Kathy from the HIE team were part of this performance. I was amazed at the talent of these people and their enthusiasm – wow! Apparently they didn’t hire an events company to handle the night, they did it all themselves!
Thank you for inviting me to be a guest at this special event for you.
Published: 21/03/2008 11:06 AM
I thought I had seen all the SBS books on the market, but here in the R&D department of Trend, I found this one on the shelves. They team tell me the name of the guy and I’ve never heard of him – but he’s got an MVP label on the book. Must be one of the hidden SBS Ninja MVPs I’ve heard of
Published: 20/03/2008 7:01 PM
Another round of blogs that I read focused on the business side of SMB IT consulting. Some of these are not direct answers to your business problems, but ideas for future directions you might want to take.
BlogStorm Online Marketing is one of those. This site talks about how to use your website to get higher rankings with the various search engines. Customers that already know you and your products will likely know where your website is. However new customers won’t and this is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes in. There’s some interesting ideas here in this site, so if you are considering an online presence then check out this blog.
SmallFuel Marketing Blog today talks about the value of having a good business card. One of the things I am understanding here in Taipei this week is just how respected a business card (or name card) really is. Different cultures value them differently, but many SMB IT Professionals think that printing them up themselves on their laser printer is acceptable. Guys – this is ONE piece of your company that you will leave behind with the customer after you leave. Make sure it’s a great example of the quality that you intend to deliver to the customer. A cheap serrated edge card that you’ve printed yourself does not do anything for your image. Take the time and get a professional to help design it. There are many online services that can do this cost effectively and give you a really professional image.
Duct Tape Marketing Blog talks today about your marketing strategy and in particular the importance of writing down your plans and then reviewing your actions with them to determine "is this part of the plan or a distraction". I know I’m guilty of not doing this all the time and it leads to large amounts of wasted time – time that can’t be recovered at all. They focus on the ways that small business owners can do marketing easily and effectively.
I hope these are useful. If you have some useful blogs that you read yourself, please let me know.
Category: Business Focus
Published: 20/03/2008 9:59 AM
Sean is one of the longer serving members of the SBS team in Redmond and he recently did an interview and showed of the SBS 2008 Backup and gave an overview of the SBS console. Check it out here http://edge.technet.com/Media/683/
Category: SBS 2008 / Cougar
Published: 20/03/2008 9:37 AM
Ok – so today is the day I spend with the Research and Development team. I arrived at the office to find that the lead for the team has pulled an all nighter and only left at 7am – I guess this is the real world now huh So Jonas is my lead today. He’s just given me the latest build of Worry Free Business Security 5.0 (aka CSM 5.0) to install. This product is within days of going into a public beta and yesterday I saw some of the screens and functionality for the first time and was very impressed.
One of the cool features in v5.0 is location awareness. This feature allows you to modify the behaviour of other features of the product based on the location of the client computer. You might want lower security settings for your office and higher settings for when your out of the office. On example of this is the inbuilt firewall. Below you can see a screen shot of the product that allow me to set the firewall to be enabled when out of the office but disabled when inside the office. Very cool.
Another cool feature is Web Reputation Services. This allows the CSA (client server agent) to check the reputation of a web site when you surf to it and it will block the site if it’s a known dangerous site. Again location awareness can be set to allow you to modify the behaviour of the CSA for in and out of office scenarios.
The Behaviour Monitoring is a new feature in this version that is designed to combat threats that have not yet been identified using pattern file based scanning. It does this by monitoring the system and blocking or notifying the user that something wants to access their system. You can see below a few of the parameters that it monitors.
Oh goodie – I just broke the beta Whilst playing with the product on a test machine, I was able to generate an unexpected error message. I guess that’s why I was testing it in the first place right! It’s interesting to see the passion in the R&D team here. I can’t understand their Chinese discussions, but I get the impression that they are very passionate about this product and they are taking it personally that I broke it.
Later in the afternoon the team took me through these new features in depth. I’ve got to say there is nothing better than being trained by the people who wrote the code. They know EVERYTHING about it. I think that the Behaviour Monitoring features alone will be worth the upgrade as it will protect our customers from threats that have not bee discovered as yet.
Today has been great – I’ve had the chance to work with the guys actually writing the code – they even offered to let me help, but this is one area that I have NO IDEA so it’s better to leave it to the professionals. Tomorrow I am spending the day with the QA team – which should be loads of fun too. Thanks Jonas for having me in your team today.
Published: 19/03/2008 9:21 PM
Today I spent time with the User Interface team talking to them about how the product looks and how they expose features of the product to us. I’ve seen some very cool previews of things to come and taken a lot of the feedback that people have given me direct to the team that make the design decision. Thanks to Charlene, Jecy, Theresa and Mayur for the chance to do this.
So some specifics…
How would you like to see a one button install for CSM for SMB on an SBS server? Ideally I think it could be done given that on an SBS we know certain things about how the product should be configured. We know it has IIS installed, we know the exchange server name and all of the normal options that we would use. In fact I change nothing of the default install right now. So why not have an install where we have the ability to enter the activation code and then select Default (after which we don’t have to do anything until the product is installed) or Custom for all other options. This is one of the ideas that has come out of discussions here today that could make life easier for us in the SMB IT Pro space.
What about the documentation that comes with CSM for SMB? Well – good news on that front. They have a new technical writer that is aiming to raise the level of the documentation above the waterline and make it more relevant to the SMB IT Pro. Instead of "click next… click save" they will streamline the documentation to show the navigation path and the field names with explanation of things that are not easily recognisable. In addition they are considering having an online PDF document that has inbuilt shockwave videos of particular points. This should make it easier for first time administrators to get a better understanding of the product.
I’m hoping to be able to post some screenshots tomorrow of a few things that I’ve seen today
Published: 18/03/2008 8:24 PM
I get asked from time to time by many SMB IT consultants about which business blogs to read. Here’s a few that have interesting stuff on them this week. I’d recommend you take a look and see for yourself if they strike a chord with you.
Small Business Trends – this has some great info, normally focused on the USA, but equally applicable across the globe. They have a post today offering 100 of the best kept marketing secrets. Check it out here This book is assembled based on community input which is a neat idea.
Flying Solo – this site is an Aussie based site designed for one man business operations. Based on my community involvement I find that many SMB IT consultants start out like this and often find their niche and stay small. This site gives some great hints and tips on how to survive being a one man shop. I know that Vlad won’t like it – but hey – he’s just Vlad
Blogtrepreneur – this site is focused on business’ that are mainly online entities – however they have some great ideas on how you can build your business in directions you might not have thought about. Their post today gives 101 resources that any business could use to better survive.
What great business blogs do you read? Let me know.
Category: Business Focus
Published: 18/03/2008 10:47 AM